The author reserves all copyright privileges. This work may not be reproduced except for personal use, without the permission of the author, and may not be linked to any pay sites.
Dedication: To my friend Ry, its inspiration, and to Don Hanratty, who encouraged me to post it.
Thanks: To my editor Bill, and to you readers who have taken time to write.
JETjt@aol.com John Tucker
RON AND BRYAN
Chapter Thirty One
In the morning when Ron awoke, he gazed out the bow windows of the master stateroom, looking at the harbor scene of Nassau, the Capital of the Bahamas. The captain had opted to anchor in the harbor rather than dock, as the port was very busy with two major cruise ships moored at the piers. The stay in Nassau would not be long with at most, some shopping for bargains on Bay street, a quick climb up the Victoria Staircase to Fort Fincastle, with time later for a tour around town in horse drawn carriages.
A trip over to Paradise Island was in store for a planned lunch at Dune, the minimalist dining spot where Bahaman specialties were featured. The boys,along with Lonnie, Jack, Jeff and Phil, and including Hans, planned on an afternoon at Paradise Beach. Ron knew that the boys for sure were interested in a little 'boy watching' and were going to wear their new Speedos to reciprocate. Ron, Matt, Sam, Tom, Bryan and Alan were interested in a try at the Wyndham Crystal Palace Casino. Ron really did not expect Alan to be too interested, since he was going principally to watch and to accompany Bryan, who had never gambled. Ron thought they would leave after Bryan's curiosity was satisfied, but since there were so many things to see, he knew that they would not be bored.
Ron looked at the beautiful Matt, his lover, sleeping beside him. Matt was such a wonderful companion. He was smart, witty and just plain fun to be with. The fact that he was gorgeous and had a sense of self-assurance only added to the pleasure of his nearly constant company. He was the complete package that Ron had quickly come to love. The love that they had for each other was maturing as Matt had gotten used to Ron and, more importantly, Ron's wealth. Neither of them spent lavishly and never, never flashed cash. That was relatively easy, because the cash they carried was very limited, having several forms of plastic money that they used instead. The money they had on them was primarily for tips or small items, such as a pack of gum or a coke. Ron always carried a few hundred-dollar bills in a hidden compartment in his wallet for emergencies, but generally didn't even think of it being there. They both accepted that the most valuable thing they posessed was each other, and the love that they felt which was freely exchanged.
Matt stirred as Ron watched. Matt's well formed body was only covered to his waist with a sheet, which showed signs of a tent from his generous endowment. Matt's eyes opened with the sleepy look of one reluctant to waken.
"Dreaming of me, babe?" Ron asked as his hand enclosed Matt's tented projection.
"Why should I dream of you?" Matt joked. "I have you in the daytime and evenings. If I'm gonna dream it's gonna be of a cute young guy like Tim, Robert, or Brandt. My dreams of old guys of 29 went away when I landed you for real."
"You're gonna pay for that remark, buddy." Ron challenged, as he rolled onto the body of his lover and began to tickle him without mercy.
Matt bucked and screamed out in laughter. Ron had discovered Matt's weakness and was not going to let up until he had satisfaction.
Matt thrashed and tried to get away from the attack, but his every move was anticipated by Ron who maintained his relentless attack. Matt choked out the words Ron expected as his reward.
"Mercy! Mercy! I give! I give! I'll do anything you want; just stop, PLEASE," Matt giggled.
Ron stopped his attack and lowered his face to Matt's in a tender kiss.
"You brute!" Matt said smiling. "It's hard to imagine what I ever saw in you!'
"It's hard all right!" Ron answered, again grasping Matt's rock hard organ.
"Hey guy, you better let me up. I gotta pee real bad. You almost made me wet my pants while you were tickling me."
"Yeah, like you were wearing any," Ron said as he rolled off the body of his lover. "Go pee. I'm gonna take a shower."
"I'll join you in a minute, love." Matt answered with a gleam in his eye.
* * * *
Everyone was off the yacht before ten o'clock to hit the Victoria staircase and to take a look at the fort, which offered a beautiful view of the city and the harbor. It was still early when they descended into town to attempt their most aggressive shopping yet. There were many trendy shops, and jewelry stores. The boys were off on their own while the older ones were looking for duty free bargains. Ron picked up a couple bottles of Ricardo Pineapple Rum, that he liked. The shoppers were staggered at the offerings of some of the most exclusive shops. $400 socks, $1500 driving gloves, $10,000 briefcases and $5200 bathrobe were items so expensive that the men were aghast that anyone, regardless how rich, would spend that kind of money.
While shopping, Bryan saw a matching pair of rings that he fell in love with. He was with Alan but was careful not to seem too interested, except that he mentioned them to his partner who agreed that they were beautiful. The rings were sterling silver on gold and were perfect for what he had it mind. They were simple, yet elegant and very masculine. When he was separated from Alan, he ran into Ron, showing him the rings and telling him of his plan. Ron smiled and told Bryan to find out Alan's ring size and give Ron his own, and he would take care of the rest. After Bryan and Alan left the store, Ron made a purchase for delivery in mid December.
Meeting outside, the guys found the stations where the carriages were rented and paired off for a tour around the City, including a drive by the pink colonial building surrounding Parliament Square.
Noon came and the party traveled to Paradise Island. Their first stop was to the Dunes for their luncheon of Bahaman specialties like conch chowder and "smudder" grouper, a fish specialty covered in onions and peppers. The restaurant was almost stark in its decor, but was filled to capacity. Fortunately, reservations had been made earlier, so the party had no problems being seated. The boys spotted a couple of rock stars in the restaurant and wanted autographs, but Ron caught them and shook his head 'no'. They took the hint as an order, even though they were momentarily annoyed.
After lunch, the beach group went back to the ship to change before heading to Paradise Beach, While the casino party found transportation to the casino.
The casino group walked into the beautiful structure and was assaulted by the noise from the slot machines. The gamblers in the lavish establishment varied in clothing from very elegant outfits to cutoffs. As they wandered around, Ron was approached by a well-dressed man in a business suit.
"Mr.Turner," the man said smiling, "How nice to see you again. Captain Larson called and told us that you might be visiting us today. We have a table waiting for you, whenever you are ready."
"Thank you Charles. I'd like you to meet my partner Matt and our friends, Tom, Sam, Bryan and Alan. Guys, meet Charles Crumley, the General Manager."
"It is a great pleasure to meet you all." Charles said in greeting. With a sweep of his hand he continued, "The house is yours. Anything you wish for we will try our best to accommodate. Just ask and if it is within our power, it will be yours."
Bryan said softly, "I'll take one of those, one of those and one of those," looking at three really cute guys walking by."
Ron laughed as Charles said seriously. "Where would you like them to meet you?"
Bryan blushed as the group cackled with laughter.
The group continued on around the casino.
As they walked, Ron turned to Bryan and said. "He wasn't kidding either."
"Wow," Bryan said in amazement. "How does he know you?"
"Oh, I was here last year and took the place for about $140,000. They just want a chance to get it back. I have a credit line here of $5 million, so their mouths are watering."
"Amazing," Alan remarked. "I can't believe that anyone would risk that much money."
"Oh, it's fun entertainment, but you can't be reckless if you're gonna play. We'll play here in a few minutes, but I would suggest that you guys limit your bets until you get the hang of it. I'll give you a few pointers, too. You just can't allow yourself to believe that those chips represent real money. It's too distracting."
Minutes later the group found the empty blackjack table with its waiting dealer. There was a small sign printed at the table that said, "Mr. Turner's Party, PRIVATE TABLE." Ron, Matt, Tom and Sam took seats. Bryan and Alan watched, standing.
"Good afternoon Mr. Turner. Gentlemen." The dealer said smiling.
"Good afternoon, Frank. These are my friends, treat them well. Would you set out chips for 6 please? Let's start with $5000 each except for me; I'd like $20,000. The two standing gentlemen wish to pass for right now. It is alright if they are seated, is it not?"
"Certainly Sir. For you we can bend the house rules a little."
Ron knew the pit boss was hovering nearby and could overhear every word.
Bryan and Alan took seats.
"Oh yes, Frank," Ron continued. I'd like my friends to have a minimum limit to be $10. Mine will be the usual."
"Yes Sir." Frank said after looking at the pit boss whose back was to the table. Seeing an affirmative nod, he placed piles of chips at the six places. He then handed Ron a chit for $45,000 to sign, and after doing so it would be given to the pit boss. Ron signed the scrap of paper and handed it back to the dealer.
Ron explained the game to the group, particularly for Alan and Bryan's benefit. He quickly explained about trying to get the highest hands below 21, about the dealer having to take a hit when his hand was lower than 17, and about doubling and splits. He emphasized that it was as important to figure the probability of the dealer busting as it was to have a winning hand showing.
They began to play with Sam, Tom, and Matt each betting two red $5 chips and Ron betting a $100 black one. . The game stayed relatively even over the first half hour, when Ron coaxed Ryaan and Alan to play.
The dealer suddenly got unlucky. Everyone started winning and Ron upped his initial bet as his pile grew. Occasionally, one or more of the others would bet $20 and were delighted if they won. Ron was betting $1000 a hand and winning far more than he was losing. The pit boss was standing behind the dealer, now watching the action. Ron saw him unobtrusively tap Frank on his back.
"It's time for my break now." Frank said. Ron gave him a black chip for a tip.
"Thank you sir," Frank said as another dealer stepped up to the table. Frank scooped up the tips he had received, mostly from Ron, and estimated that he had around $2000 in tips.
'Hmm, I'm doing alright,' Ron thought.
He quickly looked at his stack of chips and guessed that he was now up about $20,000. The other guys had done well too. Matt, Sam and Alan were more than even, with Tom ahead by more than $700. Bryan had been the luckiest. He jumped right in with $20 bets, doubling and splitting properly, and winning nearly every hand. He had five or six Blackjacks (Ace and face card) and had set his starting money aside and was playing with the "house money" he had won. Ron estimated that Bryan was nearly $ 2,000 ahead, which was unbelievable, considering that his bets had been fairly small.
The new dealer was very lucky. Ron urged everyone to bet minimum bets. Within 20 minutes, Matt and Sam were in the losers' column, Alan barely ahead, but Bryan managed to stay even with where he was when Frank left. Ron was down nearly $6000 from his high point.
"New dealer," Ron said in a raised voice.
The pit boss tapped the dealer on the shoulder. He stepped back and a new dealer stepped up and began to play out the decks.
Their luck immediately turned for the better. Sam was having an unlucky streak, in spite of the better cards, and remained behind. Everyone else was having much better luck.
Bryan and Ron's luck came on strong. Bryan began playing $25 initial bets, and occasionally would ante up $50. Likewise Ron was starting with $1000 bets again, and once got a blackjack on a $5000 bet.
After 4 hours of playing, they decided to call it quits. Each player, except Sam, placed their initial stake out on the table. Tom gave Sam $500 from his pile to cover his losses, and Sam then placed his $5000 stacks out to join the table. The credit chit cancelling out his earilier stake was signed by the Pit Boss and endorsed by the Ron.
Each man then took his remaining chips to the cashier. Tom and Sam, together came out $300 ahead. Matt won $500, and Alan $800. Bryan was astonished when the cashier counted out 40, $100 bills. Ron took a check in the amount of $48,600 which he endorsed and handed to Alan.
"For the Friendship Trust," he said.
As they left the casino and walked toward the waiting cabs, Ron smiled and said, "See, that wasn't too bad was it?'
Bryan grinned like he had broken the bank, while everyone else except for Sam had a big smile.
"Money begets money," Alan observed.
"Yep," Ron said gratefully. " Just see that the casino's 'contribution' gets put to good use."
"You can bet on it," Alan quipped with a smile.
"I know that my winnings will," Bryan said. "It's gonna go into my college fund."
Ron and Alan both smiled.
* * * *
As they gathered on the rear stern deck for cocktails before dinner, Ron noted some pretty red bodies from the beach contingent gathered together sipping soft drinks.
"Have fun, guys?" he asked as he approached.
"It was awesome," Tim said. "Hans and I had a great time with the others. We swam and played in the water, and even joined a beach volley ball game! I never had such a good time."
"I hope these younger guys, didn't drive you crazy," Ron said, addressing Jeff and Phil, the young whiz kids, who were sitting with the boys and Lonnie and Jack."
"Nah, they didn't bother us none," Brandt interjected. "They are just bigger kids. They can go with us cute guys anytime."
"Just wait 'til you get back to New York, ya little twink," Lonnie said laughing. "You're gonna pay for smarting off about your elders."
"Oh, yeah?" Rich added. "You gotta catch us first. I bet you get tired just runnin' from the shower to the bed."
"Nah," Brandt contradicted, "They have lot's of practice at that!"
Jeff's and Phil's faces glowed with a deep redness.
"OK guys," Ron said, "He who is without sin, cast the first stone." ---- Which reminds me of a joke."
All the guys grinned as they groaned.
"There was once a King in Africa, who lived in a palace made of grass. One day he noticed that his throne was getting old and worn out, so he ordered a new one. When it arrived he put it in his throne room, but hadn't figured out what to do with the old one. He told the servants to store it in the attic above the throne room. A few days later a torrential rainfall came and the grass palace got soaked. Even the ceiling of the throne room was dripping on the King sitting on his new throne. All of a sudden the old throne broke through the ceiling and killed the King! Do you know the moral of the story?
After a moment's hesitation Rich said, "Nope, tell us."
"People who live in grass houses, shouldn't stow thrones!"
Everyone laughed or groaned loudly, except for Rich, Tim and Brandt, who looked puzzled.
"Huh?" Tim asked.
"You know," Robert said. "People who live in glass houses shouldn't throw stones."
Rich thought about it a second and said, "What a dumb joke."
Ron cracked up laughing. Stepping away from the beach group, he addressed the entire party on the deck.
"The Chef will be serving dinner on the rear outside lounge of the main deck in about a half hour. There are no particular plans after that except for coffee or after dinner drinks up here. This evening we will be cruising down the Out Islands of the Bahamas on the way to our next stop at Anguilla. You will find life there somewhat slower than in Nassau, but it should be very relaxing.
This is the longest leg of our journey. We will be east and south of Puerto Rico, at the top of a chain of islands that end with Granada, which is near the coast of Venezuela. We could have spent the entire trip in the Bahamas as there is much to see, but we decided to take the circular tour this time and come back to the Bahamas on a later trip.
"The evening is free to do as you wish. The scenery will be beautiful this evening if you are on deck. Please feel free to use any of the facilities we have for your enjoyment. Please meet for breakfast not later than 8:30 A.M. on this deck. Have a great evening."
* * * *
Lonnie and Jack returned to their stateroom at 9:30, after the sun had gone down. They had spent virtually all their waking moments together over that past two days. That they were on the trip at all was somewhat puzzling to each of them.
Jack felt that Ron had invited him along to help him back into life without the company of his deceased partner, Ted. If that had been Ron's intention it seemed to be working. In the past three days since they had left Las Vegas, Jack had little time to dwell on his former life with his lover. His loneliness had been crowded out by the many activities and the constant companionship of the handsome Lonnie. Jack's initial reaction to Ted's death, after the funeral, had been the resignation and acceptance of being alone. Even though he knew that Ted himself wanted Jack to have a full life even to the extent of finding a new love, Ted's natural reaction was to withdraw into himself.
Lonnie wasn't at all sure why Ron had invited him either. Was it because he was a friend of Bryan, Ron's best friend, because of his "little romp" with Ron at Bryan's, or because Ron needed a companion for Jack? Lonnie was just happy to be on the trip and Ron treated him just like his other friends, so he accepted that the reason wasn't really important.
Lonnie, too, had lost his former lover, but to a breakup. His partner had dumped him for another guy. His reaction to the breakup was much different than Jack's. Instead of withdrawing into himself, Lonnie had pursued sexual experiences with a driven passion in order to bury the emptiness he felt inside. Strangely though, up to now he had never hit on Jack, even though Jack was certainly more than attractive enough to be the desire of any healthy gay male.
Lonnie and Jack had enough time together that they knew where each other was coming from. Lonnie went out of his way to make Jack comfortable around him. He kept his distance and their conversations were mostly lighthearted , but not completely impersonal. Jack, on the other hand, made an effort to come out of his shell and be a good companion to Lonnie on the trip. They had found much in common and a friendship began almost immediately upon their meeting. Both were determined to let neither Ron nor Bryan down, by being difficult due to their own past problems.
They were both laying on their own twin bed listening to music over the stereo speakers in their room.
"This has sure been a great trip so far." Lonnie observed looking at Jack.
"Yes, Ron knows how to do things right."
"Man, did you hear how much Bryan won at the casino?"
"Yeah, he is so lucky."
"Sure, but it wasn't always so, Lonnie responded.
"Maybe not, but now he has Ron as a friend."
"Bryan isn't lucky because of that. He is lucky because of Alan. I sometimes think that Ron would have chosen Bryan, if Bryan hadn't been so much in love with Alan. Ron knew of their love, too, and accepted that it would never change. I don't think it would make any difference now,'cause Ron really loves Matt. I even hit on Ron myself when I first met him. Like it did me any good. Now I'm kind of embarrassed about it."
"I wouldn't worry about it. I'm sure that Ron has more than one skeleton in the closet that he probably regrets. You just have to get on with your life, and suppress not only the bad things that have happened to you, but some of the good things that are in the past as well."
"I'm really glad you feel that way, Jack. I hope you know that I really like you."
"I really like you too, Lonnie. In spite of my own mind, and in spite of what I know that Ted wants for me, my heart is still having a bit of a hard time. I hope that it's alright if we take it a little slow."
"Sure, Jack. I'm in no hurry. Any relationship that we develop can go at whatever pace that makes you comfortable. Fair enough?"
"Yeah, great.... I do care for you.... I want you to know that," Jack said softly. I guess we should go to sleep now, but I wouldn't mind a kiss. ...maybe it would be something to start with."
Lonnie smiled. He got up from his bed and moved to the one occupied by Jack, and sat down on the edge. Leaning over, he took Jack's hand in his and placed a gentle kiss on the lips of his handsome roommate. Giving Jack's hand a squeeze, he looked into his eyes and smiled.
"Thanks and good night," Lonnie said as he stood, released Jack's hand, and returned to his bed.
"You are most welcome; I enjoyed it too," Jack replied with a returned smile.
The light went out and the room was dark.
* * * * *
Hope you enjoyed the chapter. John Tucker.